Yellow Jackets: Understanding this Common Pest

Yellow jacket a stinging pest

Yellow jacket a stinging pest

No matter where you live you are probably familiar with, and sure to avoid, the myriads of different stinging insects out there. Yellow jackets are especially common with over 16 different species living in the United States alone; and the fall season, even though it’s cooler, is still a very active period for these flying, stinging pests.

Behavior Patterns

Compared to other similar insects like wasps and hornets and despite having similar physical characteristics, Yellow jackets are particularly unique in some of their behavior patterns. In order to handle a potential infestation without a trip to the hospital, it is important to understand the differences in aggression and habitual behavior between Yellow jackets and the many other stinging insects.

Like others of its kind, Yellow jackets are a social creature and live within the bounds of a colony and hive. Only active throughout the summer and fall months, Yellow jackets will die off in the winter leaving only the queen to hibernate and start anew in the spring. Hives are usually constructed subterraneously or hung from some sort of appendage and are instantly recognizable by their<a href=””>grey papery </a> appearance. Trees, gutters, and underneath the eaves of houses are very popular spots for wasp hives.

What They Eat

Yellowjackets are attracted to and eat fructose based substances typically found in plant nectar, but will raid most anything that has sugar in it. However, despite what we know about  pests like these, wasps in hives actually depend on more than just glucose and sucrose.  In the larva stage Yellow jackets require a great deal of protein, which they often get by ingesting other bugs and the likes.

Avoiding Injury from These Pests

Although wasps are less reactive and therefore less likely to sting, they are extremely territorial. If you come near the hive you’re probably going to be attacked by a swarm. And unlike other stinging pests, Yellow jackets don’t lose their stinger after the first attack, so they can plunge over and over again causing extreme pain and swelling. Many people are  allergic to Yellow jacket venom and if stung can end up in anaphylactic shock. People who are sensitive to the venom can very easily become oversensitizedand react even more severely the next time they are stung.

Yellow jacket Pest Control Tips

Due to the dangers of a Yellow jacket sting, it is imperative that you utilize the help of a professional when attempting to eliminate the pest if you are not confident you can handle the situation.  Exterminators avoid severe health risks by using highly specialized equipment to remove and destroy the hive. There are also many pest control companies that offer organic treatments, which protect nearby gardens or other delicate vegetation.  Instances where the hive you wish to eradicate is near plants you wish to protect require the use of safe but also effective methods  to control the problematic Yellow jackets and their hive.

 Don Kuperhand, Director of Technology at Organic Pest Control NYC notes that “When you’re dealing with a garden, an active outdoor space that may have kids or pets running around and pests, it’s important to put safety first by using organic pest control methods, whether it be green products, biological control methods (bringing in natural predators of the pests you’re dealing with) or organic agents (such as diatomaceous earth). You don’t want to have any hazardous chemicals near your garden, your pets or kids. There is a fine line to accomplish the harmony of all of these things, but if done right you can control the problematic pests, while keeping everyone safe.”

If you have pets running around your yard,  make sure that they remain safe from Yellow jackets and don’t get stung. To manage any Yellow jackets, while keeping your pets safe,  look into pet-friendly pest control methods  you can use outdoors to effectively treat the problem  while keeping things safe for your furry family members.

Although you may be able to handle a Yellow jacket’s nest on your own, nothing is a substitute for the safety and general know how that a professional pest control company will provide. If you believe you have a Yellow Jacket’s nest anywhere on your property  notify a professional immediately, it may save you a trip to the emergency room.

How to Avoid Getting Stung by a Hornet

Baltimore Hornet Control


Although many people consider hornets  to be a separate insect species ,  they are, in fact, the largest type of wasp. Like wasps, they are a members of the Vespa insect species . They are distinguished from other wasps by their large vortex, i.e. the space between their two eyes. Their stings are painful, and their nests are generally found in trees shrubs and under eaves. Fortunately for man, they are usually found in out of the way places.

Hornets  do not generally attack humans, and will only sting when they or their nests are threatened. If a hornet perceives  it is under attack or that its nest is under attack, it will respond viciously. While wasps generally threaten by flying around the head of their victim, hornets go right for the target, in dive bomb fashion. Their sting is more painful than a bee, yellow jacket or wasp.

Notably, hornets have a signaling capability so that when an individual hornet or nest is threatened; the entire colony will come out against the intruder. This can cause fatalities to victims of multiple hornet stings.

Should you accidentally come upon a wasp nest, it is important to proceed with caution, so as to avoid triggering a swarm attack. The following suggestions will help you to minimize your danger. Don’t make a loud noise. Don’t make a movement toward the nest with your body or arm. Don’t breathe on the nest or breathe on a hornet. Don’t prevent a hornet from returning to its nest. Do not try and break apart a hornet’s nest. Even if you are following instructions, don’t try to remove a hornet’s nest during the day, when hornets are most active. If you are stung by a hornet don’t panic, as a sudden move might trigger a swarm attack. Rather slowly move away from the nest.

More feared than the sting of a single hornet, is the insects  ability to respond to a series of signal pheromones, which can trigger a mass hornet attack. The pheromones are released, either from the body of a dead or crushed hornet, or via chemicals released when a hornet stings a victim. The pheromone signaling alerts members of the nest that a source of food, e.g. a local bee hive, is near, or else a perceived intruder is approaching. In either case the powerful chemical attraction mobilizes any hornet in the area to come and join the attack.

Due to the signaling system, it is always unwise to kill a solitaryhornet when found outside. The smell released from the crushed body will attract a horde of hornets, which will come out en masse against the hornet killer.

The pheromone chemicals found in hornet venom are also found in certain food flavorings, which can likewise trigger a hornet attack if they are taken on a picnic. Certain flavorings in bananas and oranges attract hornets. Other foods containing these natural flavorings attract hornets. Certain citrus scented products attract hornets, as well as certain volatile chemicals and perfumes. Because pheromones pare owerful at even small concentrations, wearing clothing or gloves that have been stung by hornets or worn while killing hornets, may attract a hornet attack if parts of the hornetwere smeared into the cloth.

Despite the potential danger of attack, it is important to keep in mind that hornets are not intrinsically aggressive towards humans, if you happen to see one or a nest, follow the recommendations provided in the report and don’t provoke them to attack.

Purchasing or Building an Effective Yellow Jacket Trap

Baltimore Yellow Jacket Control

Yellow Jacket (courtesy of Worsley School)

Late summer and fall picnics can be ruined by the presence of stinging insects , mostly yellow jackets, which are attracted by sweet foods placed out on the table. However, the problem can be remedied with the use of inexpensive store bought or even free home made yellow jacket traps.

If you wish to buy a trap, an online consumer website recommends  RESCUE Reusable Yellow Jacket Trap . The traps are inexpensive, ($10.00), and reusable. If you run out of bait you can substitute something sweet like sugar water or crushed fruit or soft drink.  A second choice is Raid Disposable Yellow Jacket Trap (81605) – 4 Pack:. These traps cost around $35.00. However, the advantage is that they are disposable, and avoid the need to clean and reuse.   A third recommendation is Glass Yellow Jacket & Wasp Trap: by Greenfleet . These traps go for around $20.00 they are reusable, decorative and attract wasps as well as yellow jackets.

If you prefer, you can build a very effective yellow jacket trap, in a few minutes at no cost at all. The only supplies you will need are an empty 2 liter plastic bottle, some tape or staples, some string and a kitchen knife or hole puncher. Just follow the instructions.

  1. Take an empty 2 liter plastic bottle; a mineral water bottle will do just fine.
  2. Cut the top off, just where the diameter has become as wide as the body.
  3. Fill the empty bottle base partially full of bait.
  4. Yellow jackets like protein  in the spring, when they are mating, so if it’s springtime you will use a chunk of meat.
  5. If it’s late summer, when yellow jackets are most aggressive, use something sweet, like fruit chunks. They love mashed up grapes or banana. Other bait choices include a 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water mixture, 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, I banana peel, half fill bottle, lemonade or even Pepsi/soda. You can use anything you have seen yellow jackets attracted to at one of your outdoor picnics.
  6. To add to the killing power of the trap, squirt in a couple of tablespoons of dish washing liquid
  7. A  little bit of yellow food coloring can also be added as the color yellow attracts them.
  8. Now invert the top of the plastic bottle, upside down, so that it resembles a funnel, and place it inside the lower half of the bottle, remember to remove the plastic top.
  9. It should hold in place, depending on the bottle shape
  10. Tape and/or staple the top together with the bottom of the bottle. Make sure the seal is tight.
  11. Cut two holes in the plastic where the two pieces come together, near the top. Put string through the holes and use to hang the bottle.
  12. Use a slippery substance such as hot soapy water, dishwashing soap or Vaseline and spread it along the exposed surface of the funnel. This will cause the yellow jackets to lose their footing and fall into the trap. Cooking oil may also be used.
  13. Place about 20 feet from the picnic table
  14. Works best at a height of four feet
  15. Works best at around 85 degrees
  16. The yellow jackets will fly in, attracted to the sweet. When they try and leave, insect  logic dictates they should look for the highest point to exit. They will fly around, but miss the inverted opening. When they get tired they will fall into the soapy liquid. The soapy liquid, will stick to the yellow jacket body making it impossible for them to breath.
  17. When full replace the trap with a new one or empty the trap regularly making sure the yellow jackets are dead. You can kill the yellow jackets by filling the bottle full of water, or covering it with plastic and placing it in the freezer until they freeze to death.
  18. Replenish the bait every few days.
  19. DON’T let live yellow jackets escape. Their frenzied distress in the trap will attract nearby yellow jackets, and the idea is to keep them all in the trap.  DON’T crush yellow jacket bodies as that emits a smell warning yellow jackets to attack. You can also free the yellow jackets in the wild, however they may return
  20. Bury dead yellow jackets or flush them down the toilet as dead yellow jackets emit a warning odor to living yellowjackets .

Good luck and enjoy your outdoor picnics in safety.